Health/Fitness » Fitness

Common Sports injuries

by Brick O’Neil
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Feb 12, 2009

If there's one thing we all can be sure of, it's as long as people play sports, there will be injuries. From researching, the most common are sprains and strains, knee and Achilles tendon injuries. Just as common are prevention and treatment techniques. Smart planning and thinking, both on and off the field (or court), can prevent, or lessen, the injury.

By far the most common types of injuries that occur during physical activity are sprains and strains. According to Helia Health Blog, sprains occur when a ligament, a band of connective tissue that attaches bones to each, overstretches or tears. They can range in severity from minor to complete - in which the entire ligament is severed. They are most common in knees, ankles, or wrists.

Knee injuries specifically, are common. Just watch any football or basketball game and anyone who has ever played competitive sports knows how common knee injuries can be. Each year, more than five million people visit orthopedic surgeons for their knee problems.

Achilles tendon injuries are also common. The Achilles tendon connects to two large muscles of the calf to the back of the heel. This thick tendon is under a lot of tension and so awkward blows can cause tears that are said to be incredibly painful. The most common cause of Achilles tendon tears is weakening due to tendonitis, which makes the tendon more likely to rupture.
Preventing sports injuries: stretch and warm up.

The biggest prevention technique one can do is to allow time for stretching. Arriving at the sports hall or football pitch ball court with only a few minutes before play begins will mean stretching will be rushed or inadequate. Stretching should be relaxed, gentle, slow and thought of as important preparation before the activity. Ideally a mild warm up should precede the stretching.

Stretching should never be jerky or performed with a bouncy movement. This is known as Ballistic stretching and can cause muscles, tendons or connective tissues to tear. Only stretch to the feeling of tension or discomfort and breathe slowly and rhythmically throughout the routine.
Stretching is as important after an activity as before an activity as muscles tend to tighten up after being worked.

Your joints are lubricated with fluids and cartilage. Muscle is bound in Fascia which is stiff before being warmed up. Your joints are very sensitive structures and are lubricated with fluids, cartilage, and other materials.

Prevention should be anyone's main goal. The phrase 'warm up' is essentially what is being done - warming up ligaments, muscles and joints.. You are preparing your muscles for higher intense activity. The more flexible and less stiff you are the lesser chance of inflicting an injury.

If (and there will be) there is an injury, remember The R.I.C.E. Method of Acute Injury

Treatment, courtesy of

  • Rest: Resting is important immediately after injury for two reasons. First, rest is vital to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament or other tissue from further injury. Second, your body needs to rest so it has the energy it needs to heal itself most effectively.

  • Ice: Use ice bags, cold packs or even a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a thin towel to provide cold to the injured area. Cold can provide short-term pain relief. It also limits swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area. Keep in mind, though, that you should never leave ice on an injury for more than 15-20 minutes at a time. Longer exposure can damage your skin. The best rule is to apply cold compresses for 15 minutes and then leave them off for at least 20 minutes.

  • Compression: Compression limits swelling, which slows down healing. Some people notice pain relief from compression as well. An easy way to compress the area of the injury is to wrap an ACE bandage over it. If you feel throbbing, or if the wrap just feels too tight, remove the bandage and re-wrap the area so the bandage is a little looser.

  • Elevation: Elevating an injury reduces swelling. It's most effective when the injured area is raised above the level of the heart. For example, if you injure an ankle, try lying on your bed with your foot propped on one or two pillows.

    For Safe Return to Sports

  • You are pain free
  • You have no swelling
  • You have full range of motion (compare the injured part with the uninjured opposite side)
  • You have full or close to full (90 percent) strength (compare with the uninjured side)
  • For lower body injuries - you can perform full weight bearing on injured hips, knees, and ankles without limping
  • For upper body injuries - you can perform throwing movements with proper form and no pain

  • Brick is an Health & Fitness contributer.


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